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Publication Detail
Schooling, pedagogy and notation in the lives of visually-impaired musicians
Abstract
This paper comes from a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project at the UCL Institute of Education, London called “Visually-impaired musicians’ lives” (VIML). VIML was supported by the Royal Academy of Music, London, and Royal National Institute of Blind People, UK. It led to a co-authored book currently in production with Ashgate Press (Routledge), which addresses a broad range of themes. However, here we spotlight schooling, pedagogy and notation in the lives of amateur and professional visually-impaired musicians. VIML sourced “insider” perspectives from 225 adult visually-impaired (VI, i.e. blind or partially-sighted) musicians/music teachers, and 6 sighted music teachers, through interviews and an international questionnaire, which collected quantitative and qualitative data. It examined issues around equality and inclusion in music for VI children and adults in relation to: the provision of mainstream schooling versus special schools; pedagogy, including the preparedness of teachers to respond to the needs of visually-impaired learners; and the educational role of notation, e.g. Braille as well as other print media. There were multifaceted perspectives on the merits of VI children being educated in either mainstream or special educational contexts. These related to matters such as access to specific learning opportunities, a lack of understanding of VI musicians’ learning processes (including accessible technologies and score media) in mainstream contexts, and concerns about music educators' knowledge in relation to VI. Regarding pedagogy, there were challenges raised, but also helpful areas for sighted music educators to consider, such as differentiation by sight condition and approach, and the varying roles of gesture, language, light and touch. Musical participation was diverse, as was notation and media use, with some surprising barriers and opportunities linked to different genres and musical contexts.
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